FanDuel - WFBC

August 28, 2004

Not this infernal debate, again.: However, it is straight from the mouth of someone who may have a perspective worth defending. Though that person is John Kruk.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey to baseball at 04:46 PM - 23 comments

So why bring it up? :) And no, it isn't a perspective worth defending, whether it comes from Kruk, or God himself. Jeter is 61st overall in VORP this season and only the 9th best shortstop. Win shares-wise, he's 20th in the AL and 4th amongst AL shortstops. He's not bad, but saying he's the greatest in the game is just silly. If he were playing in KC instead of NYC no one would have the faintest clue who he is.

posted by tieguy at 05:44 PM on August 28

Because people seem so dern passionate about either loving Jeter or hating him. But I don't know about so easily dismissing the opinion of someone who actually played the game. I mean, I know I watch a lot of it on TV, and maybe you do too - but, maybe, just maybe, we're a little full of shit having never played MLB. Like the guy who came up with VORP and win-shares.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 05:59 PM on August 28

I've never played the game, but I manage a team (of coders) and I can tell you that one asshole who is a gifted coder makes up for a whole bunch of guys who are moderately good coders with good 'intangibles.' Baseball, at its core, is about getting on base and getting people out- and Jeter doesn't do either of those particularly well (not badly, just not well.) Intangibles are nice, but his 'leadership' doesn't make Gary Sheffield hit better or the Rocket win Cy Youngs. [And, again, I don't think that John Kruk or any of the other ex-players who like hearing themselves talk so much they became commentators would have the faintest clue who Jeter was if he didn't play in NYC or Boston. I'm not anti-Jeter, per se; he does his job, and does it fairly well. I'm anti-stupid-media-who-make-Jeter-out-to-be-a-hero-because-he-isn't-a-jerk-and-plays-for-the-yankees.]

posted by tieguy at 06:43 PM on August 28

I'll be the first to admit that Jeter isn't the best hitter. He isn't the best shortstop or the best base runner, either. But you put what he has all together, and you'd be crazy not to make him the cornerstone of your team. So in summary: - he's not the best hitter - he's not the best runner - he's not even the best player at his position But! He's still the best player in baseball. Riiiiiight. And just because it's John Kruk saying it, doesn't mean it has any, uh, weight to it. Far better players than him have said dumber things about baseball. I think Jeter is a great player. I think he is handsome, smart and swings a good bat. I know he fields the position better than 99.99999999% of the people in the world. He's definitely one of the top 50 position players in the game today. But he's nowhere near the best player in the game. He's not even the best player on his team. Or the best player at his position on his team. Before someone starts spouting about him being "Mr. Clutch" in the post-season, please read this information.

posted by grum@work at 06:44 PM on August 28

Grum: nice last link. The bits at the end about being anti-math but pro-statistics in a baseball context are great, even with the Jeter debunking aside.

posted by tieguy at 07:37 PM on August 28

Srinivasa Ramanugrum: I know he fields the position better than 99.99999999% of the people in the world Better than one in ten billion?!? Um, if true then that would by definition make him the absolute best in the world, which is precisely the point- he is not even the best fielding shortstop on his own team. :)

posted by hincandenza at 07:50 PM on August 28

I thought we were a world of 6.3 Billion. There are two members of the NY Yankees that I respect. One is Jeter and the other is Torre. Torre is obvious because he manages a laundry list of millionaires and free agent egos to playoff appearances year after year. As for Jeter, the reason why we read all these articles about him being the best is because there is no larger stage to work on day-in and day- out than Yankee Stadium. He always perseveres. He began the year in the basement and bounced back amid questions by not only the NY Media but the National Media as well. That's why he gets the intangibles label (to me, there is no more annoying term than having "intangibles", just ask JerseyGirl for her thoughts). This is why former major leaguers write about him all the time. They love the game and see NY as the hardest place to play. My disclaimer here is that I am a huge sox fan. Born and bred. My all-star shortstop is gone amid questions of his loyalty, so I'm a little jaded on a "great" player's longevity with one team. Yet this guy continues to thrive no matter the situation. And we all know, he will retire a Yankee. Given Steinbrenner's trigger finger on getting rid of players, or signing new ones, that has to stand for something here.

posted by usfbull at 10:04 PM on August 28

Better than one in ten billion?!? Oops. My bad. Added two too many 9s at the end there. One in 100,000,000 would have been good enough I think. I definitely think he's one of the best 60 fielding shortstops in the baseball world today. As for the math error, I'll go turn in my BMath degree next time I swing by the university. ;)

posted by grum@work at 10:19 PM on August 28

Didn't Jeter make The Play against Oakland because he was in the wrong place at the right time?

posted by yerfatma at 11:08 PM on August 28

You sabermetricians used to hold his batting average against him. Some people choose to discount intangibles because they can't be measured. Baseball is more than what can be objectively measured. If I get to start a team tomorrow, I still start it with Jeter as my SS.

posted by vito90 at 12:23 AM on August 29

Oh, and yerfatma...where should he have been? Deep in the hole at SS watching the play develop at home? When a play gets crazy, every player should endeavor to be somewhere useful. But only he would have been where he was. I so badly want to hear the anti-Jeter crowd acknowledge the amazingness of that play.

posted by vito90 at 12:35 AM on August 29

You sabermetricians used to hold his batting average against him. Say what? .314, .291, .324, .349, .339, .311, .297, .324 Those are his yearly batting average totals (before this year). You'd have to be a moron to complain that those numbers were anything but good. Besides, nobody is complaining that Jeter can't hit. What "sabermaticians" complain about is: 1) he's not the best hitting shortstop 2) his fielding is (before this year) very subpar at his position I so badly want to hear the anti-Jeter crowd acknowledge the amazingness of that play. When I watched the play on TV, my comment was: "That was one hell of a play by Jeter!" He came from out of nowhere, made a great reaction/decision combo, and was well cheered for it. But if Jeremy Giambi slides in safe (instead of just trying to run over home plate), do we have this discussion? Nevertheless, it made for a great play and he deserves the kudos for doing it. Guess what? I do believe that the ability to make a great play exists in almost every player in MLB. Jeter gets a chance to have his rare great play appear on TV because the Yankees (during his time) have had more TV appearances than any other team. This doesn't mean that Jeter is a good fielder. In fact, he's terrible. Let's take a look at some statistics. No, hear me out on this one before you go "You can't measure fielding!" Here is the bb-reference web page for Ozzie Smith. Scroll down to the "Fielding section" There are four columns of interest: FP: fielding percentage - (putouts + assists / putouts + assists + errors) lgFP: league fielding percentage - same as FP, but for the whole league at the same position as the player RFg: range factor by games played (putouts + assists / games) lgRFg: league range factor by games played So for Ozzie Smith, his career numbers are: FP: .978 lgFP: .966 RFg: 5.03 lgRFg: 4.10 Basically, Ozzie Smith got to WAY more balls (range) than an average shortstop (5.03 vs 4.10) and made far fewer errors on the ones he got to than an average shortstop (.978 vs .966). This is no surprise as Ozzie is considered one of the greatest fielding shortstops in history. Now let's look at some of Jeter's contemporaries: Omar Vizquel: FP: .983 lgFP: .972 RFg: 4.45 lgRFg: 4.25 Again, well above average. Nomar Garciaparra: FP: .969 lgFP: .973 RFg: 4.41 lgRFg: 4.38 Well, Nomar makes a few more errors than average on a ball hit to him (about 1 in every 250), but still gets to more balls than the average SS. Alex Rodriguez: FP: .977 lgFP: .972 RFg: 4.43 lgRFg: 4.37 Better than average. And now the man of the hour, Derek Jeter: FP: .973 lgFP: .972 RFg: 4.00 lgRFg: 4.36 So for all the balls he gets to, Jeter handles them cleanly at a league average pace. But that's if he even gets to the ball. Look at how few plays he makes compared to the league average. Over a 162 games season, that is over 50 less plays than an average shortstop. So while I have no problem acknowledging that Jeter can make a great play now and then, can the "pro-Jeter" crowd acknowledge that he is a terrible fielding shortstop? My favourite joke while watching Yankees play: What do you call a 4-hop bouncer 5 feet to Jeter's left? Base hit!

posted by grum@work at 07:18 AM on August 29

where should he have been . . . every player should endeavor to be somewhere useful. No sarcasm here; I was legitimately asking the question. I was amazed at the time just like everyone else. But I will take issue with the second haf of your contention: people are assigned roles and trained to be places on the field by rote because the vast majority of folks don't think at all (never mind well) during a crisis. So I don't think there are a lot of coaches out there telling players "if a ball is hit into the gap in a close game that really matters, I want you all to endeavor to be somewhere useful. And this is the sound of one hand clapping." I just want to know if that's where you expect a SS to be in that situation.

posted by yerfatma at 09:34 AM on August 29

For what it's worth, I sent an email to a friend who played shortstop for a NCAA Division III team the next day. He concluded that given the situation Jeter should have been there.

posted by offsides at 09:50 AM on August 29

Good article from today's NY Times Sports section... Grummie - my head is spinning looking at all those acronyms!

posted by vito90 at 11:26 AM on August 29

So, is everyone going to still hate Jeter and decree his mediocrity when he's inducted into Cooperstown? This just seems like one of those cases where the numbers work on both sides. "You can prove anything with statistics, Kent. 14% of people know that."

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:42 PM on August 29

Also, Grum - why the Joe Morgan hate? What's so fucking hard to accept about needing to manufacture runs in the postseason? Everyone who wins is able to do it. I swear baseball, because it can be diseminated down to fairly digestable and comparable numbers, has the most arrogant fans out there. There seems to be no appreciation, or even admittance, that their are baseball opinions out there that are tempered by actually having played the game, lived the life, and are better formed then our ESPN cruising, couch surfing fan asses. That or John Kruk is a .300 lifetime retard who clearly hasn't a clue or a leg to stand on.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 03:05 PM on August 29

Also, Grum - why the Joe Morgan hate? What's so fucking hard to accept about needing to manufacture runs in the postseason? Everyone who wins is able to do it. What I hate about Joe Morgan is that he makes these wonderfully vague (and usually incorrect) statements to support his theories. The link I sent you has the following quote: I don't dislike or disrespect Billy Beane, I disagree with his philosophy. .... Second, the Minnesota Twins have had a lower payroll and they've been in the playoffs 3-straight years. The Marlins have a low budget, they won a championship. The Angles had a lower payroll at the time THEY won a championship. It's not about money. An interesting statement, and it would be a very valuable argument...if it wasn't built on falsehoods: 2001 Total Payroll: Oakland: $33.8M (2nd lowest) Minnesota: 24.1M (lowest) 2002 Total Payroll: Anaheim: $61.7M Minnesota: $40.2M Oakland: $40.0M 2003 Total Payroll Minnesota: $55.5M Oakland: $50.3M Florida: $48.8M So the only statement that is true is that Florida had a lower payroll than Oakland last year (and Minnesota had a lower payroll one of the three years mentioned). ...I bunted, I did the little things—and so did my teammates at the Big Red Machine—to score runs. Well, Joe Morgan had a grand total of 10 sacrifice bunts in the 7 years he played in Cincinnati. In the years that they won the World Series (1975-76), he had zero. In fact, the team had 22 (non-pitcher) sac bunts in 1975 and 17 in 1976. In comparison, the team that he derides (the modern day Beane-run Oakland A's) had 21 and 17 in the last two years. So, in fact, the Big Red Machine (and Joe) didn't do "the little things" to score runs. At least not more often than the Oakland A's of today. I like Billy personally very much, but until he can manufacture runs in the post season by playing some small ball and bunt and steal and hit and run -- produce and score runs -- I am not going to agree with his philosophy. Look at the history. There's only one way to win In 1975-76, the Joe Morgan-led Reds played in 17 playoff games. The grand total number of sac bunts for the team was 2. And I won't get into the arrogance of the "there's only one way to win" statement. If that were true, every team would have only one pitcher and all the fielders would be playing bare-handed... That's why I have contempt for Joe Morgan as a baseball analyst, but respect him highly as a baseball player. He has opinions that run counter to the facts, but then tries to use the facts to support his opinions. I swear baseball, because it can be diseminated down to fairly digestable and comparable numbers, has the most arrogant fans out there. Arrogant? Or informed? Just because someone can tell me over and over that Derek Jeter is a "clutch performer in the playoffs", or that "small ball won my team championships", doesn't mean that it is true if there is hard numerical evidence to the contrary. I don't care if it's the fucking heavenly triumvirate of Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson and Ted Williams telling me, if the numbers tell me the opposite then I'm not going to believe them. Period. Before someone jumps up and starts spouting the oft-repeated talking point ("Lies! Damned lies! Statistics!"), let me clarify: Examining the past: statistics are virtually infallible Examining the present: statistics are a little shaky but are useful Examining the future: statistics are simply an informed guess

posted by grum@work at 05:20 PM on August 29

So, if Ted Williams told you that Jeter was great, you still wouldn't believe him? Interesting... You and my brother should get together. I still believe that there are things in baseball not necessarily governed by emperical evidence - moving runners over, working counts, etc. Ball stats are totally useful, but they're not the only arbiters of value. Joe Morgan doesn't do his research obviously (and are those numbers preseason, postseason, or did they factor in mid-season player changes?) but 'little' ball isn't just about sac bunts - it's running the bags, moving guys over, taking pitches, stealing bases, keeping runners close and more. Whether or not Morgan can properly argue the point is debatable, but the notion is still sound - Teams like the Marlins and Twins have been playing that way and were/are successful. He wasn't wrong about that. I'm not sure if you're just anti-Morgan, or anti-little ball. And for the record - I'm very anti-Tim McCarver.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:38 PM on August 29

Teams like the Marlins and Twins have been playing that way and were/are successful. It rained today and today was Sunday. Ergo, it will always rain on Sunday.

posted by yerfatma at 08:35 PM on August 29

So, if Ted Williams told you that Jeter was great, you still wouldn't believe him? Interesting... You and my brother should get together. First of all, I've already said that Jeter was a great baseball player, so I wish people would stop implying that I'm "anti-Jeter" by making it sound like I don't think he's a special ballplayer. Secondly, you've only approached half of my statement and tried to make me out to be some sort of argumentative, near-sighted person. My full comment was "I don't care if it's the fucking heavenly triumvirate of Babe Ruth, Walter Johnson and Ted Williams telling me, if the numbers tell me the opposite then I'm not going to believe them." You have me disagreeing with Williams over the non-quantitative statement "great". I'm saying, I'd disagree with Williams if he told me that Jeter was a "great fielder", since fielding is a measurable act and the numbers would all point against Williams statement. Just being "great" is a purely personal opinion, so arguing that point is very difficult (even if I didn't already agree). Joe Morgan doesn't do his research obviously (and are those numbers preseason, postseason, or did they factor in mid-season player changes?) It's the opening day numbers, as found here. But that's the crux of my argument: Joe Morgan is a bad baseball analyst because what he says isn't correct. I'm not going to let him off the hook just because he doesn't do any research. If he was a newspaper writer, wouldn't his editor make sure those numbers were correct? Since he's a live-broadcast television commentator (or live internet chat), he's able to spout these things without anyone having the chance to verify if he's correct (except after the fact). And because he has the sheen of "Hall of Famer", his words (wrong as they may be) carry more weight than they should. 'little' ball isn't just about sac bunts - it's running the bags, moving guys over, taking pitches, stealing bases, keeping runners close and more Teams like the Marlins and Twins have been playing that way [small ball] and were/are successful. But the Twins haven't been playing "small ball". I don't refute their success, but it hasn't been the way that Morgan insists it's been done. Let's look at some "small ball" stats for Minnesota the last two years: 2002: Stolen Bases: Minnesota - 72, 8th in the AL Sacrifice Hits: Minnesota - 34, 9th in the AL Sacrifice Flies: Minnesota - 52, 7th in the AL Pitches per Plate Appearance: Minnesota - 3.7, 12th in the AL Opposition Stolen Base % ("holding the runners close"): Minnesota - 68%, 5th in the AL 2003: Stolen Bases: Minnesota - 94, 7th in the AL Sacrifice Hits: Minnesota - 42, 7th in the AL Sacrifice Flies: Minnesota - 52, 5th in the AL Pitches per Plate Appearance: Minnesota - 3.6, 12th in the AL Opposition Stolen Base % ("holding the runners close"): Minnesota - 72%, 12th in the AL (the stats only go as far back as 2002 on the ESPN site) So, for a team that supposedly plays "small ball", it doesn't rank in the top 4 in ANY of the regular "small ball" statistics for it's league. Like I've said before, just because someone says something all the time, doesn't make it true. If there is empirical evidence that refutes the statement, it's probably not true. I'm not sure if you're just anti-Morgan, or anti-little ball. Anti-Morgan? Nope. I think he's a fine human being and one of the best baseball players in the history of the game. Anti-little ball? There is a time and place for that strategy during a game, so I'm definitely not against it. Consider me "anti-unsubstantiated statement".

posted by grum@work at 08:51 PM on August 29

For the record: I had no idea if the stats supported or refuted the belief that Minnesota played small ball. It wasn't until I went and looked it up that I found out that there wasn't any truth to it (from a quantitative viewpoint). I would have accepted Morgan's point of view if Minnesota had shown any emperical evidence of "small ball". In contrast, the Marlins of 2003 played "semi-small ball". They were in the top 3 in Stolen Bases (1st) and Sacrifice Hits (2nd). However, they were middle of the pack or lower in Sac Flies (7th), Pitches per Plate Appearance (11th) and Opposition Stolen Base % (14th). So for this point, I will accept that maybe Morgan is semi-correct. Maybe.

posted by grum@work at 09:02 PM on August 29

It's not just whether or not you can execute 'little ball' all the time - but when it counts. First runs of games against aces, tying and winning runs late in games... I can't remember what we're arguing about anymore.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 02:50 AM on August 31

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